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Bloomsbury Institutions


Working Women’s College

Also known as College for Men and Women

Not to be confused with the College for Working Women (Frances Martin College), or the College for Women and Men (Working Men’s College)


It was founded in 1864 by Elizabeth Malleson to offer adult education to working women

In its first year 151 women enrolled for classes

A wide range of occupations was represented, including shop assistants, dressmakers, milliners, domestic servants, secretaries, bootmakers, and laundresses (Owen Stichcombe, ‘Elizabeth Malleson and the Working Women’s College’, Camden History Review, vol. 16, 1989)

In 1874 Elizabeth Malleson and her husband Frank turned the College into a co-educational institution, after failing to persuade the Working Men’s College to agree to a merger

Their new college, still at 29 Queen Square, was subsequently called the College for Men and Women, and continued as such until its dissolution in 1901

When the Mallesons made their College co-educational in 1874, a breakaway group led by Frances Martin set up the women-only College for Working Women in Fitzroy Street, west of Bloomsbury; later renamed Frances Martin College, this latter institution finally merged with the Working Men’s College in 1966

What was reforming about it?

Like the Working Men’s College, established in Red Lion Square by Frederick Denison Maurice in 1854 and from 1857 located in Great Ormond Street, the Working Women’s College was intended to offer education in a wide range of subjects to working women

As well as extending these opportunities to women, the College was non-sectarian

Where in Bloomsbury

It was located from its foundation in 1864 at 29 Queen Square

Many of its teachers and supporters were also involved with the Working Men’s College

These included William Morris, who lived in and had his firm’s offices in Queen Square from 1865

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

Books about it

None found, but see June Purvis and Margaret Hales, Achievement and Inequality in Education (1983), and Thomas Kelly and Brian Simon, A History of Adult Education in Great Britain (1992)


None found

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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